Imagining life beyond the ruins | A novelist’s journey

Exploring castles, houses, churches, lost gardens and hidden follies is all part of the fun of being a historical fiction author. England is full of such finds, and one of the times I love most about planning a novel, before getting down to the hard grind of writing, is discovering the places where your characters lived. There is also that moment where you pause in your adventures, draw breath in the quietness, and let your imagination populate the scene. Once, this was not a ruined chamber, but was full of music and dance and the aroma of roasting meats. Once, someone tended this garden, gathered the herbs for a curative to treat a sick child.
It is my job to bring these glorious remnants of the past to life again. Sometimes, we are fortunate that someone has preserved the past, reconstructing rooms and walkways, putting furniture back, replanting lost flowerbeds. Other times, we just have the company of the wind and birdsong, and the light of a rising full moon to connect with the past, think of the people who lived here, and remind us that we too are just passing through.

Bolton Castle, Wensleydale, Yorkshire


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